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Excerpt from a newly polished, older short story, "Missing the Muse"


Missing the Muse

By

D. Michael Hardy

You are waiting for inspiration, for the mythical muse to grace you with her presence.

You’ve been doing this for the past forty-seven minutes, desperately gazing at your open laptop and wondering what the hell’s taking her so long, attempting to coax her out of hiding while slowly sipping on a semi-hot non-fat mocha (you come here so often the baristas don’t even have to ask anymore). Discreetly you avert your eyes and observe the other patrons – the middle-aged business professional typing diligently on his MacBook Pro, the two hot high school girls in tank tops and short shorts discussing which celebrities they’d most like to date, the old man sitting quietly in the corner with his black coffee and newspaper, the thirty-something couple texting on their smartphones, ignoring each other - who all share this space and time with you on a gloomy Tuesday afternoon, and you wonder what draws them all here. A carefully nurtured caffeine addiction? The ambiance? An excuse to get out of their homes? Or perhaps, like yourself, they simply enjoy the camaraderie of total strangers. Being alone in public is one of the simple joys of life.

Outside, the clouds are low and brooding, the hot winds ruffling the green umbrellas trying desperately to cover the brown metal tables beneath them, and it’s just beginning to rain. Secretly you pray for a hurricane, or if not, a tropical storm. At least then there would be some excitement in your otherwise bland world. You haven’t paid much attention to the weather reports lately, so it’s possible.

There’s still hope.

You’re supposed to be working on your novel, the next great American piece of literature that will propel you from this mundane world of mopping floors, pulling trash, and scrubbing toilets that is your current occupation and into one of endless possibilities – the New York Times best-seller list, a six-figure advance for your next masterpiece, a big-budget Hollywood adaptation of your work starring Leonardo DiCaprio or Ryan Gosling, an endless parade of models who all want to date you – but the words just won’t announce themselves and is any of that even possible anymore, what with the state of publishing today? People don’t read like they used to, do they? Back before television and video games and the internet? Most people (in your opinion, anyway) seem to crave instant satisfaction – clever or comical tweets, memes, those quick little movie clips whose name escapes you. Reading takes patience and solitude. It’s a dying art, really. Does that make you a dying artist? Fuck, this is why you never get any writing done.

It’s been nearly two weeks since you’ve written a word, and even then you knew it wasn’t that good. It feels as if that ever-elusive muse who, not so long ago used to visit you nightly, has since abandoned you for some other, possibly better-looking writer, leaving you wordless and desperate. You’d hoped a change in venue would draw her back to you, yet so far it’s proven less than fruitful.


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